The Phillies rough spring continues as they manage to split their series with the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park. Vance Worley led the way with another solid performance and Placido Polanco dazzled with his glove and came through with the bat as the Phillies continue to be mediocre against poor competition. Polanco delivered a tie breaking two run double in eighth after totaling just two RBI in his first 71 at bats. Worley continued to build upon his 11-3 rookie season which prompted the Phillies to withhold him as a potential trade piece for Carlos Beltran. Depending on whom you ask that may or may not have been a good move considering how putrid the Phillies offense has been thus far this season. Not that Vance hasn’t been holding up his end of the bargain, he currently leads the team in strike outs and has given up only 2 runs in his last 20 innings pitched, last night he continued on this trend giving up 1 run and 5 hits with 5 strikeouts. Beltran has also had an outstanding year thus far and it’s debatable which would be more valuable to the Phillies at the moment, another bat or another starter in their already stocked rotation.
Closing out this series with a win was big since the Phil’s since they now begin a series in Atlanta against the division rival Braves. The Cub’s series was an up and down one very similar to their season. They lost the series opener 5-1 then won the next game 5-2, then lost the next 5-1. Typical for the Phillies this year they scored a combined 2 runs in their 2 loses. The offensive stats haven’t improved much they currently rank 27th in runs, 15th in BA, 27th in OBP and 25th in slugging percentage. The stagnant production has caused former Phillies manager Larry Bowa and former fan favorite Daren Dolton to question the approach the Phillies players are taking to the batter’s box, calling for more patience at the plate and imploring the hitters to work the count more and force the opposing pitchers to work. Certainly the absence of Howard and Utley play a major role in the offensive struggles but whether or not Utley can ever regain his form as one of the most deadly left handed hitters in the game remains to be seen and the time table for Howards return this season continues to see saw.
The longer the hitting woes continue the more pressure will be placed on the pitching staff, which is currently shorthanded with Cliff Lee missing another start with a strained oblique muscle. Howie Kendrick filled in and pitched well on Sunday striking out 7 while allowing 2 runs on 5 hits over 6 innings but a lack of run support did the Phil’s in. The Phillies struck out ten times and scored their only run from a bases loaded walk. They also committed an error which doesn’t make things easier on the pitching staff which is under enough pressure since the bats aren’t producing. They head south to Atlanta and give the ball to Cole Hamels hoping he can turn the tides for the Phillies.
About the Author
Written by Tom Bopp